THE FIFTH YEAR
MAR. 1969-FEB. 1970
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Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham, CG
Major Craig Taylor, Information Officer
1Lt G.A. Reynolds, Asst Information Officer
1Lt Stephen R, Thompson, Press Officer
Sp 4 Wm Scaff, Editor
Photographers: Sp 5 Robert
Blakemore, Sp 5 William Bontemps, Sp 5 R.J. Dixon,
Sp 5 Kent Johnson, Sp 4 C. Carlton Lindaman, Sp 4
Ed Long, SGT Johnny McCulloch, Sp 5 Joe Oden,
Sp 4 Robert Parkhill,Sp 4 Floyd Richards, Sp 4 Jerry Yamachika
Prepared by the Information Office,
173d Airborne Brigade,
APO San Francisco 96250
as the fifth in a series
of authorized annual publications
designed to relate the activities of the brigade
Opinions expressed herein
are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army.
COMMANDING GENERALS 6
TRAINING/AMERICAN & ALLIED 32
THE FIFTH YEAR 36
OPERATION WASHINGTION-GREEN 38
TACTICAL OPERATIONS 58
USO SHOWS & VIPS 80
BINH DINH PROVINCE 86
THE SKY SOLDIER 96
IN MEMORIAM 104
BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN W. BARNES
Brigadier General John W. Barnes,
Brigade Commander from December,
1968 until August, 1969, is the son of a
career soldier and has known the Army
nearly all his life. Born in El Paso, Texas,
he attended school in Boston, Washing-
ton, D.C. and the Philippines before
graduating from Manila High School in
1936. Before attending the United States
Military Academy, he attended Oregon
State College and a West Point prep
school for one year.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in
the Corps of Engineers, he entered
World War II with the 51st Engineers.
Following the war he attended the
California Institute of Technology and
received a master's degree in Aeronauti-
After a year of Arctic Testing with
the U.S. Army Engineer Test Detach-
ment on Hudson Bay, he returned to
the United States for a 3-year tour at
the Fort Knox Armor School as an
In 1953, as a lieutenant colonel, he
went to Korea and commanded an
combat engineer battalion until his
transfer in 1954 to the Infantry. He then
commanded the 1st Battalion, 17th
Infantry in the 7th Division for four
months before transferring to Japan.
Gen. Barnes tour of duty in Japan
included service with the Marines in
Provisional Corps and an assignment in
the Far East Command Headquarters as
General Lemnitzer's intelligence briefer.
Following his return to the U.S. he
attended the Armed Forces Staff College,
graduated in June 1957 and then served
successively as executive officer and
deputy commander of the 1st Airborne
Battle Group, 502d Infantry in the 101st
Promoted to colonel in 1962, the
general went to Korea again in the
following year. Assignment this time was
as CG of the 7th Division's 3d Brigade.
Upon completion of this tour he re-
turned to the United States for duty at
the Army Test and Evaluation Com-
mand at Aberdeen Proving Grounds
before service In Vietnam.
BRIGADIER GENERAL H. S. CUNNINGHAM
Brigadier General H. S. Cunningham
assumed command of the brigade on
August 9, 1969 after serving as Director
of Training, Military Assistance Com-
mand, Vietnam. The 48-year-old com-
mander first served in Vietnam as J-5
for the Military Assistance Command.
On August 10, 1968, he became assistant
division commander of the 101st Air-
borne Division, remaining in that posi-
tion until December 15 when he as-
sumed duties at MACV Training
The general holds a master's degree
in business administration, earned at
Harvard University in 195 1, and a
master of arts degree in international
affairs from GeorgeWashington Univer-
sity in 1961.
An impressive 33-year military
career began in 1936 in the National
Guard. The general graduated in 1940
from high school in Clarkston, Washing-
ton, and enlisted in the Army on August,
1942. He earned a commission as a
second lieutenant in the infantry,
graduating from Officer Candidate
School at Camp Robinson, Arkansas,
in March, 1943.
During WorldWar II, he served in the
European Theater of Operations with
the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment.
In 1950 during the Korean Conflict,
Gen. Cunningham served as a battalion
advisor for the Korean Army.
Assignment as commanding officer of
the 2d Battalion, 505th Infantry, 82d
Airborne Division followed Korea. In
1953 ne completed the Command and
General Staff College at Fort Leaven-
One tour of duty found him as an
instructor at the U.S. Army Logistics
Management Center at Fort Lee, Va.
He spent a year at the Army War College
and then reported to Fort Amador,
Canal Zone, as the assistant chief of staff
for personnel operations (G-i).
During his tenure as Chief of Staff of
the 82d Airborne Division from March
1965 to June 1966, the general received
the Legion of Merit for outstanding
achievement when a division task force
deployed to the Dominican Republic
during the crisis there.
Fighting the Viet Cong and North
Vietnamese regulars requires a high-
ly mobile combat force, able to
adapt to an elusive enemy on his
own grounds and conduct successful
operations on the coastal plains, rice
paddies, dense jungles and rugged
mountains of Vietnam. The 173d
Airborne Brigade has proved to be
just such a unit.
The brigade was born as a result
of the marriage between the 173d
Infantry Brigade and the 2nd Air-
borne Battle Group, 503d Infantry
Combat Team on Okinawa on June
25, 1963. It was designed as the U.S.
Army's hardhitting, flexible strike
force of the Pacific and the Far East.
For the next three years, the 173d
trained hard on its home island of
Okinawa and throughout the Asian
Theater. Extensive airborne, guerilla
and jungle warfare exercises in the
Philippines, Taiwan, Korea and
Thailand, honed the unit to the
razor edge of combat readiness.
It was the admiring Chinese
population on Taiwan, where the
brigade underwent airborne training
with the Nationalist Chinese Army,
that gave the paratoopers the name,
"Tien Bing," or "Sky Soldiers." It
stuck and has since been made the
unofficial nickname for the paratro-
opers of the 173d Airborne Brigade.
When the unit deployed to Viet-
nam in May, 1965 as the first Army
combat unit to arrive in country, it
was probably the most combat ready
American unit ever to enter an armed
Upon arrival, the brigade defended
and secured Bien Hoa Air Base while
conducting patrolling and clearing
operations in the northern Mekong
Delta and War Zone D. Ever since
its first big action north of the Dong
Nai River where they trapped a
main force VC regiment and killed
400, the 173d earned a reputation for
itself as a reaction force that deployed
to wherever the fighting was the
Two missions, however, stand out
from all the rest. The first occured
during February 1967, when the 2nd
Battlaion made the first combat
jump in 15 years to spearhead Opera-
tion Junction City. After the para-
chute assault deep into War Zone
C near the Cambodian border and a
massive helilift of the other batta-
lions, the 173d swept its area of
responsibility, killing 266 enemy and
destroying an important Viet Cong
The second was the capture of Hill
875 near Dak To during the largest
and most celebrated single battle of
the Vietnam War. After 20 con-
tinuous days of fighting around Dak
To, brigade elements locked horns
with an entrenched NVA regiment,
and in the most bitter fighting of the
war, captured the hill on Thanksgiv-
ing Day, 1967. Over 800 enemy were
killed during the battle.
It was also in November that the
I73d's rear elements moved from
Bien Hoa to An Khe. For almost the
first three years in Vietnam, how-
ever, the brigade had been looking
for a "home of its own" in its tactical
area of responsibility. This opportu-
nity came in March, 1968, when the
173d replaced elements of the 4th
Infantry Division in the Bong Son
area and began Operation Cochise/
In April, 1969, the brigade began
its present mission of pacification in
northern Binh Ding Province.
During its brief history, the 173d
Airborne Brigade has undoubtedly
become, in the words of General
William Westmoreland, "one of
the finest units in the history of the
American Fighting Man."
f A\'t Ml
Four airborne battalions of the 503d
Infantry comprise today's 173d Airborne
Brigade. The Brigade has inherited the rich
traditions of the oldest, and one of the most
renowned parachute infantry regiments in
the United States Army.
The founding of the 503d Infantry came
on March 2, 1942. Three parachute batta-
lions were combined and sent to Fort
Bragg, N.C. for training. These three batta-
lions became the 503d Infantry. The 2d
Battalion, however, was later detached and
sent to England for operations in the
In October, the 503d deployed to Australia
for more extensive training for combat
operations in the Pacific Theater. The 1st
Battalion 501st Infantry, was then redesig-
nated the 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry and
joined the regiment in Australia for further
The first airborne operation of the Pacific
Theater took place in September 1943. The
503d was moved to Port Mosby, New
Guinea, in July of '43. From there, the
regiment jumped into the Markham Valley
on New Guinea's northeastern coast to
engage entrenched Japanese forces. After
two weeks of fighting, the Japanese were
defeated, and the 503d was reassembled for
the return to Australia.
The 503d's next jump was made by the
1st Battalion on the thickly- jungled island of
Noemfoor on the northern coast of New
Guinea. Shielded by a thick smoke screen,
some of the planes dropped their sticks at
an altitude of 175 feet for the lowest jump
These actions set the stage for the famous
combat airborne assault of Corregidor in
the Philippines. A fortress of Japanese
bunkers and fighting positions, Corregidor
was nearly impossible to assault because of
the small size of the island, treacherous
winds, rugged terrain and sheer rock cliffs
which drop straight into the ocean.
After weeks of naval and aerial bombard-
ment, the Japanese were completely stunned
when the 3d Battalion led the way, jumping
onto the island on February 16, 1945. Al-
though taken by surprise, the Japanese
defenders resisted fiercely to the last man,
and it took the Allies 1 1 days of continuous
fighting to capture the "Rock" and open
From this brilliant action, the regiment
was later awarded the nickname of its most
famous objective, "The Rock."
The 503d's final action of the war came
in April when it supported an infantry divi-
sion on the Philippine island of Negros. The
island was secured throughout that spring
and summer, and the surrender of Japan
found the Americans in full control of
Negros. Soon afterward, on December 24,
1945, the regiment was deactivated.
During the Korean War, the 503d was
reactivated and assigned to the 1 1th Airborne
Division. It did not see combat, but instead
trained in all parts of the United States,
In 1956, the regiment moved to Germany
wrjh the 11th Airborne, and in 1957, was
reorganized under the battle group concept.
The 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503d
Infantry was still assigned to the 11th
Airborne, while the 2d Airborne Battle
Group, 503d Infantry was organized at
Fort Bragg as part of the 82nd Airborne
In May of 1960, the latter was moved to
Okinawa to become Army's strike force
in the Pacific, and with the addition of sup-
port units, was redesignated the 2d Air-
borne Battle Group, 503d Infantry Combat
Team. On June 25, 1963, it was reorganized
again and became the 173d Airborne
Brigade, with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of
the 503d Infantry.
These two battalions, which moved with
the 173d to Vietnam in May of 1965, have
been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation
for combat actions in Vietnam. The 2nd
Battalion conducted the only American
combat jump of the Vietnam War in
February of 1967.
The 4th Battalion joined the Brigade in
June 1966 and quickly proved to be as
effective a fighting unit as her sister batta-
lions. The 3d Battalion sailed from San
Francisco in October 1967 and immediately
assumed control of Operation Boiling near
Tuy Hoa when the other three battalions
moved to Dak To.
Dak To has now been written into the
history books of the 503d Infant ry. This
battle was one of the largest and bloddiest to
take place in Vietnam. The paratroopers of
the 503d Infantry again proved their courage
and abilities as savage North Vietnamese
Army attacks were turned back until, on
Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1967, the
4th Battalion took the summit of Hill 875.
The battalions of the 503d spent
most of the year 1969, on Operation
Washington- Green in northern Binh Dinh
Province. Added to past triumphs of the
fighting men of the 503d Infantry : Washing-
ton-Green is certain to become another high
mark in the history of the 503d Infantry
and the 173d Airborne Brigade.
3 /319th ARTILLERY
The unit was organized in August, 1917,
at Camp Gordon, Ga., as Battery C, 319th
Field Artillery Regiment. The battery served
with distinction in the 82nd Infantry Divi-
sion during World War I and was awarded
battle streamers for Lorraine, St. Mihiel, and
After the war, the battalion's colors were
cased until March 1942 when the 319th was
reactivated at Camp Clairborne, La., again
as part of the 82nd Infantry. When the
division was converted to an airborne unit
in August, 1942, the 319th also made the
changeover, being redesignated as the 319th
Glider Field Artillery Battalion.
After training in North Africa, Battery C
participated in the Sicilian invasion and was
awarded its first Distinguished Unit Citation
for its outstanding achievements in the face
of bitter enemy attacks. The battery's
second citation was earned during the Nor-
mandy Beach invasion when it fired thou-
sands of shells to secure the Douve and
Mereret Rivers. More battle streamers were
added to its colors when the 319th glided into
Holland in September, 1944, and supported
the 82nd Airborne in the Battle of the Bulge
In April, 1959, Battery C, 319th Airborne
Artillery set the record for the Army on
entering "Fire for Effect" after a heavy
drop. The cannoneers derigged and as-
sembled their equipment, set up the Fire
Direction Center, established communica-
tions and went into "Fire for Effect" after
adjusting on a target of opportunity within
14 minutes and 50 seconds after the last man
left the aircraft.
In June 1960, Battery C accompanied the
2nd Airborne Battle Group, 503d Infantry
to Okinawa. When the 173d Airborne
Brigade was organized three years later in
June 1963, the battery formed the nucleus
of the present 3d Battalion, 319th Artillery.
The unit has been with the brigade
throughout its time in Vietnam. No brigade
operation in five years has been without
superb airborne artillery support from
3/3 19th. With four batteries of lightweight
versatile M-102 howitzers (105 mm), the
battalion effectively covers northern Binh
Dinh with fast accurate firepower. Prepared
to fight as infantry, the Redlegs secure their
own firebases without attached infantry.
During the fifth year as in previous years,
fire support for maneuver elements is as
close as the radio.
E TROOP, 17th CAVALRY
The 17th Cavalry originated at Fort.
Bliss, Texas in 1916, as a horse cavalry
regiment armed with sabres, pistols and
carbines. It did not see combat in either
World War, however. In 1951, the Head-
quarters Troop was combined with the 17th
Armored Group and redesignated as
Headquarters Troop, 17th Armored Cavalry
Group. The 17th Armored group had
fought with distinction during World War
II in northern France and Central Europe.
The remaining troops of the regiment
were disbanded when Headquarters troops
was combined, but E Troop was recon-
stituted in May of 1959. It joined the 173d
Airborne Brigade on Okinawa in 1963, as
the only separate airborne cavalry troop in
The troop originally used jeeps mounted
with .50 cal. machine guns and 106 mm
recoiless rifles. In late October, 1969, the
troop acquired the tracks and men of the
173d Provisional Tank Co (originally Com-
pany D, 16th Armor) when that unit was
deactivated. The 173d Provisional Tank
Company fought in such operations as
Junction City, Sioux City, and Operation
MacArthur. At Tuy Hoa North the tankers
killed 137 NVA during a day long battle
in March, 1968.
The 17th Cavalry plays an important role
in the brigade's pacification program.
Besides securing Highways 3- A and QL-1,
the Cav. troopers train villagers of the
Hoai An District in keeping hamlet security.
Explaining various tactics and ambush
procedures, they also instruct the villagers'
self-defense groups in the use of various
When the Cav. is attached to another
unit in the brigade, its mobility and fire-
power helps it serve as a security, blocking
or reconnaissance and surveillance force.
Operating separately, the troop runs road-
clearing operations, escorts convoys and
conducts mounted and dismounted recon-
The troop is also used extensively as the
brigade's reactionary force. Capable of
heliborne assaults, the unit occasionally
conducts missions as a separate infantry
force for reconnaissance-in-force, raid, or
Living up to their motto, "Ahead of the
Best," E Troop has spearheaded new opera-
tions and preceded the brigade to new areas
of operation. The troop was awarded the
Valorous Unit Citation for actions during
Operation Cedar Falls in January, 1967.
N COMPANY RANGERS, 75th INFANTRY
Suited up in camouflaged fatigues, with
darkened faces to help them blend in with
the surrounding vegetation they are going
into, the Rangers ready themselves for a
The small group of men with rucksacks
on their backs and M-16's in their hands
scurries aboard a helicopter to fly to their
Trained in the art of rappelling the
Rangers are prepared to tackle any obstacle
and overcome it to reach their assigned
location. It may be southeast of Landing
Zone English in the rugged triple canopied
jungles of the Tiger Mountains. Or the
enemy infested regions of the mountains
around the An Do and An Lao Valleys.
Wherever, the Rangers' mission is to find
the enemy and follow his movement. It is
also to keep the commanding general
informed as to the enemy's whereabouts,
his strength, armament and if moving, his
The majority of their missions are for
reconnaissance purposes. A secondary
mission of capturing enemy or ambushing
a well-used trail is more often than not an
intergrated aspect of recon.
Rangers are also capable of conducting
large-scale combat patrols for raids and
These Sky Soldiers are alert individuals
whose aggressiveness severely limits the
enemy's freedom of movement in their
so-called safe areas.
They penetrate the NVA and VC sanctu-
arys daily to play a deadly game of "hide and
seek" in the jungles and forests of Binh
During an enemy encounter, the Ranger's
knowledge of the use of artillery and air
support gives him the advantage of quick,
devastating fire power, at a moment's
Sweating from the scorching sun
soaked by the monsoon rains these
paratroopers never lose the pride
courage it takes to be a Ranger.
In their endless struggle against
enemy, their ARVN counterparts and these
soldiers of Co. N, (Ranger) 75th Infantry,
173d Airborne Brigade, know that "A
winner never quits and a quitter never
172d MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DETACHMENT
Military intelligence is like trying to solve
a big puzzle of useful tidbits of informa-
tion. Volumes and volumes of documents,
transcripts of prisoner interrogations, and
other materials yield facts that are pieced
togather and analyzed. The result of the
analysis is military intelligence.
The 172d Military Intelligence Detach-
ment's success at solving the puzzle depends
heavily on the high degree of cooperation
and teamwork that exists among the four
sections : counter intelligence (CI), order of
battle (OB), image interpretation (II), and
prisoner of war interrogation (IPW).
The CI section's main concern is to deny
useful information to the enemy and to
prevent or investigate acts of sabotage. This
section processes security clearances on
brigade personnel and conducts inspec-
tions, designed to protect the brigade's
The OB section keeps tabs on the
enemy's strength, location, mission, and
capabilities. The section draws information
from documents, prisoners, agent reports,
visual reconnaissances and aerial photos.
Skillful eyes sort through a virtual haystack
of printed material daily for one tiny needle
of useful fact.
Image interpretation involves analysis of
terrain and manmade objects as they appear
in aerial photos. The section pieces together
mosaic maps from aerial photos and has
on file a large percentage of the brigade's
area of operation.
The IPW section deals with enemy sus-
pects and prisoners, Hoi Chanhs, captured
weapons and documents. IPW depends on
the other sections and units in the field to
supply the information needed to ask the
questions which are most likely to elicit
useful answers from detainees.
Out of the never ending flow of informa-
tion and misinformation, of detainees,
weapons, photos and documents, comes a
precious commodity — military intelligence.
That commodity, however, is worth the
effort exerted to obtain it; because it may
mean the difference between life and death
for the rifleman the artilleryman, the
pilot, possibly even the clerk and cook,
who wage war against a determined and
clever communist enemy.
173d MILITARY POLICE
The brigade MPs arrived in country with the advance party of
the 173d in May 1965. They immediately assumed many extra
duties in addition to keeping law and order and controlling traffic.
They were often called upon to serve with line companies as
infantrymen and many manned M-60 machine guns as door gunners
on helicopter gunships.
The next year military policemen expanded their operations to
include providing guards for Civil Affairs teams, refugee control
and road and brigade reconnaissance. They also provided security
for engineer work parties.
In 1967 the airborne policemen made the first combat jump of
any American unit in Vietnam with the 2d Battalion 503d Infantry.
At Dak To in November of that year the MPs provided mobile
firepower for supply convoys with their gun jeeps and secured the
roads and airstrip.
With the advent of pacification under Operation Washington-
Green in 1969 the MPs again had to enlarge their operations to
include working with Vietnamese National Police and Quan
Canh (ARVN MPs), maintaining a combined police operations
center in addition to their other duties. They pull convoy "escort
with the new V 100 escort vehicle, provide gate guards for installa-
tions of the brigade, VIP escort, Tactical Operations Center (TOC)
guard, act as ready reaction force for LZ English plus normal
peace keeping and law enforcement operations.
534th SIGNAL COMPANY
The contribution of the 534th Signal
Company during the 173d Airborne
Brigade's fifth year in Vietnam has been
notable while technically diverse. Under
the guidance of MA J Frank M. Boberek,
Brigade Signal Officer, communications
have improved to enviable levels.
Overhead wire and cable at LZ English,
a constant headache, were replaced in their
entirety with an underground multi-par
cable system. With this technically superior
system, some maintence and frequent
faults were eliminated and wire communica-
tions improved immeasurably.
The signal commany, during the last
year, responded to many communications
tasks. Increasing the number of RATT
stations in the Brigade Administration and
Logistics Net from two to seven, the signal
company provided each maneuver battalion
direct communication (hard copy-page
print) with Brigade AG, Finance, and
various elements of the 173d Support Bat-
Another improvement in communica-
tions is the marked efficiency of the Para-
chute Main Switchboard. Securing a corps
level switchboard (the AN/MTC-1) from
IFFV and the 21st Signal Group, brigade
communications personnel added several
hundred TA-236 (civilian style black)
telephones for the brigade. In operation,
every telephone service short of direct
dialing was provided for the brigade. In
short, the 173d Airborne Brigade enjoyed
and continues to enjoy better telephone
service than any division in Vietnam.
Striving to further bolster the brigade
communications, the signal company
obtained secure radio equipment in amounts
comparable to a division sized unit in
FM communication is another aspect of
signal company's diversity. Administering
the brigate nets, signal personnel also
maintain retransmission sites throughout
the AO to overcome natural terrain and
The 534th Signal Company is also the
home of the brigade's MARS facility.
Deciding that not enough airborne soldiers
were getting a chance to call home, the
signal company obtained equipment and
outfitted a mobile MARS station. Hooked
by a helicopter, you too might find a MARS
station descending into your AO ready to
help you call up "the world." No area is too
small for MARS personnel to set up opera-
The "Parachute Post," the brigade's
daily news paper, uses services provided by
the 534th Signal Company. With organic
radio-teletype equipment, the signal com-
pany monitors AP and UPI wire services in
order to provide the Troops with timely
The 534th Signal Company, during the
fifth year, improved communications at
every level, from efficient telephone service
for the Commanding General and staff to
increased use of MARS for the troops in
the field. Next time you're on the phone
and the operator asks, "Parachute Main Sir,
are you working?", you can be damn sure,
at the signal company they're working.
The only separate aviation platoon in
the Army, Casper was organized with the
Brigade on Okinawa in 1963 and arrived in
Vietnam in May 1965". Since that time, it
has flown almost every type of heliborne
mission — including resupply, dust off,
"Snoopy," visual reconnaissance, command
and control, and combat assault.
Its main responsibility is to provide
UH-1H "Huey-slicks" as command and
control ships for the Brigade's commanders
and OH-6 "Loaches" for reconnaissance
and surveillance missions. The dedication
and esprit de corps of the Caspers is widely
known and is shown by their extension rate,
which is the highest in the Brigade.
173d ENGINEER COMPANY
The 173d Engineer Company was consituted on March 26,
1963, and activated with the brigade in June on Okinawa. Since
then, the company has provided the 173d with unexcelled engineer
support from Bien Hoa to Bong Son.
As combat engineers, they are capable of deploying with the
infantry to cut landing zones, destroy enemy bunkers and explode
booby-traps and mines.
Offering aid to the Government of Vietnam's pacification pro-
gram, they have engaged in bridge construction, road repair and
daily minesweeps along Highway QL-1.
In addition to their combat and pacification commitments, they
have the task of developing forward base camps and constucting
fire support bases. Another important job is the operation of four
water purification points, from which tons of potable water are
During it's brief history, the company was awarded the Itschner
Plaque as the most outstanding engineer unit in the entire Army
during 1967, and the 2nd Platoon has been awarded the Presidential
Unit Citation for actions from 1965 to 1967.
39th SCOUT DOG PLATOON
One of the smallest, and yet, most effective units when it comes
to detecting the enemy, is the 39th Scout Dog Platoon. The unit
is a composite of scout dogs, their handlers and the Combat
Trackers of the 75th Infantry.
The platoon has been with the Brigade since 1966 when they
joined us at Bien Hoa. The 75th Infantry was attached to the 173d
in October of 1967, and then assigned to the 39th in February of
A German shepard scout dog, and his handler are attached to an
individual infantry company when they are needed, and have been
extremely useful in uncovering enemy ambushes, booby-traps,
and caches. The Combat Trackers have two teams which consist of
a Labrador Retriever and five men who have had seven weeks of
intensive field training in Malaysia. Their mission is to re-establish
contact with enemy after a fire fight.
Using both their own knowledge of the enemy and the dog's
sense of smell, the tracker teams can determine the number and sex
of their quarry, and whether they are NVA or Viet Cong. Often,
they can also determine the enemy's morale, discipline and arma-
Both the German Shepard scout dogs, and the combat trackers
have proven their worth in Vietnam. Their highest compliments
have been found in captured enemy documents which warn the
Viet Cong and NVA to keep clear of the American dogs.
Support Battalion, formed with the 173d
Airborne Brigade in 1963 and originally
deployed to Vietnam in 1965 with the two
maneuver battalions, now operates with
more output and higher efficiency than at
any time in it's history.
The largest concentration of the batta-
lion's personnel and efforts it- at Phu Tai,
ten miles north of Qui Nhon. Here Company
A Administration) houses the main finance
office and various administrative branches
maintain the workshops which process
daily paperwork and pay records.
Company C (Supply and Service) is
organized into three functional areas; the
Air Equipment Supply Platoon, Supply
Platoon, and Transportation Platoon.
Together their mission is to support the
brigade and attached units by providing
all classes of supply.
Attending to the medical needs of the
brigade, both directly and indirectly, Com-
pany B (Medical) at LZ English. With a
normal capacity for 80 bed patients, the
company can handle up to 120 patients in
The medics have also initiated classes on
personal hygiene for civilians in the sur-
rounding areas. At the nearby Bong Son
dispensary a company doctor assists in
administering nursing instruction to the
Not far from B Med at LZ English is
Company D (Maintenance). They supervise
the brigade maintenance and repair parts
service and provide direct support main-
tenance for the unit. A new mechanical
maintenance shop allows the automotive,
engineer, fuel, and electrical sections to
function with the shop office and motor
pool under one roof.
They have different backgrounds and are
of different faiths, but they share a common
purpose. The five chaplains of the 173d
are serving God. They provide services
daily and are always available to talk to
soldiers about personal problems and
One of the chaplains is a West Pointer;
another is an ex-infantry and military
police officer; and one chaplain earned a
Bachelor of Science degree in Animal
Husbandry and worked for five and one-
half years as a livestock specialist before
entering the ministry. Still another chaplain
is an ex-professor at Marquette University.
All the chaplains are airborne qualified and
The chaplains go where the men of the
173d are and usually get to the field by
jeep or chopper. They have been known
to travel dangerous roads or land at hot
LZs to reach the "grunts". Their altar may
be the hood of a jeep or a stack of C-ration
They work hard hours and travel long
distances to reach the combat soldier. After
a trip to the field, or at the end of a religious
service, the chaplain may lean his weary
body up against a tree and become lost in
his own thoughts. A grunt might shyly
approach him and simply, but sincerely,
say, "Thanks for coming."
The 173 rd Airborne Brigade's training
program emcompasses several different
areas. Not only does the brigade train its
own replacements upon arrival in Vietnam,
but it also teaches the troops of the Govern-
ment of Vietnam many of the same lessons.
At the Brigade's schools in Cha Rang,
incoming American personnel receive
classes from men who have recently been
in the field or have vast experiences in
jungle warfare to pass on to the men.
The "jungle school" is mandatory for each
enlisted man and company grade officer
coming into the 173 rd. The course lasts
only four or five days, but the lessons
passed on to the new paratroopers are easily
absorbed. The information put out to the
men is timely, and Brigade proceedures to
the new Sky Soldiers.
The school refreshes the minds of even the
old soldiers wher classes on the M-16 rifle
and the claymore mine are presented. Many
of these replacements have never seen the
starlite scope, which is also demonstrated
and used in practical exercises at the school.
Then comes the class on the enemy and
his tactics. The men listen with keen atten-
tion as a senior NCO tells the how to look
for booby-traps, how they are employed,
how they are made — and what they can
Classes on enemy weapons give the new
guys a a first hand look at what "Charlie"
is using to shoot at him.
The brigade's training progaram also
extends to the Vietnamese soldiers. The
brigade trains selected NCO's and officers of
the Regional and Popular Forces (RF/PF)
and the Revolutionary Development
Cadre (RD Cadre).
These Vietnamese soldiers are trained in
U.S. weaponry, patrolling, ambushes,
leadership and enemy tactics and capa-
The men of N Company (Ranger), 75th
Infantry, train ARVN soldiers in long
range and short range patrol techniques. In
this program, an ARVN recon platoon
actually lives and works with the U.S.
rangers. They learn American techniques
and combine them with what they already
know about the enemy and his tactics.
Another training mission taken on by the
173rd is training the People's Self Defense
Force (PSDF). The PSDF assists the RF/PF
in providing security for the many small
hamlets. The Sky Soldiers teach these men
the basics of weaponry and defensive tacts.
The effectiveness of training is measured
by the ever increasing burden placed on the
Vietnamese military and their success.
Although the primary responsibility for
the "pacification" of the countryside falls
upon Vietnamese shoulders, the 173rd
feels that there is much that the Sky Soldiers
can contribute to the ultimate success of
the mission. All of the leaders of the brigade
constantly work to assist their opposite
Vietnamese officials in all aspects of pacifica-
As Operation Washington-Green con-
tinues, the excellent leadership and training
provided by the 173rd Airborne Brigade
cannot help but hasten the completion of
our job here.
The year 1969 marked the beginning of
the end of the Vietnam War, at least for U.S.
troops. President Nixon announced the
first withdrawals of American combat units
as enemy effectiveness dwindled and
Vietnamese forces grew increasingly pro-
ficient at handling the fighting alone.
Appropriately, the year also brought a
significantly new mission for the 173d
Airborne Brigade, which arrived in Vietnam
in May 1965 as the first U.S. Army combat
unit in the war. On April 15, the brigade
stopped chasing the Viet Cong and North
Vietnamese Army troops in large scale
search and clear combat operations and
began support of the Vietnamese Govern-
ment's pacification program in the four
districts of northern Binh Dinh Province.
The goal: help bring all of the area's 300,000
people under government control. And the
brigade prepared to stay as long as neces-
sary to reach that goal.
Battle hardened paratroopers seemed un-
likely soldiers for the pacification mission.
In four years of fighting in Vietnam, 173d
Sky Soldiers had shed a lot of blood and
sweat as they fought the Viet Cong and
North Vietnamese Army in the jungles near
Bien Hoa, in the Iron Triangle, on the
bloody slopes at Dak To in the highlands,
near rice-rich Tuy Hoa and on the fertile
Bong Son coastal plains.
By Spring 1969, the time seemed ripe for
a large scale pacification effort in northern
Binh Dinh Province where the brigade had
been operating for a year. In February,
Brigadier General John W. Barnes, 173d
commanding general, had observed, "It's
no longer a big unit war. We've forced the
enemy to fragment his forces to avoid
detection. And in turn, we have done like-
wise and gone after him, saturating the
areas he once could call his own, meeting
him on his own terms, ferreting him out
and destroying him. Of course, this has put
a great responsibility on the small unit
leader. It has become a squad and platoon
leader's war, and they are doing a fine job."
The brigade operations officer put it this
way: "We're nickel and diming the enemy
Early in February, the brigade ended
three long-term operations in Binh Dinh
Province. Besides accounting for nearly
2,000 enemy killed, one result of these
operations was security of highway QL-19
between An Khe and the important port
of Qui Nhon, paving the way for the
eventual move of the brigade's 4th Bat-
talion, 503d Infantry and 1st Battalion, 50th
Infantry (Mechanized) from An Khe area
to the coastal plains near Bong Son. Three
other operations, characterized by successful
small unit hawk operations, began im-
mediately and continued until the begin-
ning of Operation Washington-Green, the
pacification mission, on April 15. In May,
the 173d Support Battalion moved from An
Khe to the Phu Tai and Cha Rang Valleys
near Qui Nhon.
At the outset of Washington-Green,
General Barnes emphasized that the brigade
would no longer be preoccupied with
chasing and killing enemy troops in un-
populated jungle and mountain areas.
"Body count is no longer the criterion for
success. Instead, we will secure the people,
their homes and their farms. Our aim is to
deny the VC their support from the hamlets,
without which they can not survive,"
concluded the 49-year-old commander.
Security was the name of the game. Com-
bined Vietnamese and 173d forces moved
into key hamlets or set up nearby, providing
a protective screen behind which govern-
ment agencies initiated pacification pro-
grams to improve local economies, standards
of living, and most important, to develop
awareness of the Saigon government
among the villagers.
The four districts that made up the
brigade's area of operation lie about 280
miles northeast of Saigon. In the coastal
lowlands, bordered on the east by white
sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, shallow
water fishing supports the economy. Further
inland, just beyond the first range of low
forested mountains, rice farming is the basic
occupation. Still farther west, toward the
Cambodian border, lie thickly forested and
sparsely populated mountains, where the
enemy has located his largest base areas.
Bong Son is the largest population center
in northern Binh Dinh. Small industries in
the area include cigarette shops, brick kilns,
ice plants, some salt flats and a few shops
that manufacture rope from coconut bush
fiber. Most of the people are ethnic Vietna-
mese, with ancestral roots in the ancient
Chinese ruled kingdom of Annam. They
adhere primarily to Buddhist, Catholic and
Each of the brigade's four maneuver
battalions operated in a single district. Each
battalion commander located a tactical
operations center with local Vietnamese
forces in the district headquarters. The 1st
Battalion, 503d Infantry operated in Hoai
An district with headquarters at Landing
Zone Orange. The 2/503d Infantry ope-
rated in Hoai Nhon district with Bong Son
as district headquarters, and the 4th of the
503d went into the newest district, Tarn
Quan, with the combined headquarters at
LZ Tom. The 1st of the 50th Infantry work-
ed in Phu My district. The 40th and 41st
Regiments of the Army of the Republic of
Vietnam (ARVN) each worked in separate
areas of operation.
Initially, 24 target hamlets were selected.
Brigade or ARVN units provided screening
and blocking forces while Regional and
Popular Forces and National Police search-
ed the hamlets for VC. The district chiefs
planned the operations, while Military
Assistance Command (MACV) teams and
173d battalion commanders helped the
chiefs coordinate and execute the missions.
General Barnes and his Successor,
Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham, re-
cognized that success of the pacification
mission required the confidence of the
Vietnamese people. To generate confidence,
combined RF-PF, 173d, or ARVN security
elements remained in their assigned hamlets
until pacification goals were achieved. These
goals included effective Self Defense Forces,
RF and PF, elected hamlet chiefs living day
and night in the hamlets, responsive hamlet
government, elimination of VC, resettle-
ment of refugees, attendance in school by
children, and involvement of residents in
self-help projects of their choice.
Each hamlet organized a RF platoon as
its primary defense force and a Self Defense
Force for intra-hamlet security. Special
teams of paratroopers played an important
role in helping the 12 MACV, five-man
teams train and equip these forces. Constant
patrolling and alert defense of key hamlets
denied local and main-force VC units much
of the support they need to continue fight-
ing. Whenever the enemy came out of the
jungles and hills to extort money, gather
food and recruit people, they met deter-
mined resistance from combined Vietnamese
and U.S. security forces. Behind this security
screen, the people began rebuilding their
war-shattered countryside and economy.
The plan called for Vietnamese forces to
continue security operations as the 173d's
forces gradually withdrew, setting up again
in other key hamlets. Eventually, these
paramilitary Vietnamese forces will carry
on the defense effort without U.S. help.
Regular ARVN troops will be freed from
the populated areas to prevent invasion
across national boundaries and to search
out the VC and NVA in mountain base
By the time General Cunningham as-
sumed command of the Brigade on August
9 and General Barnes returned to the
United States, Operation Washington-
Green had produced several gratifying
results. In Tarn Quan district, company of
the 4/503d Infantry helped provide security
while a Vietnamese Catholic priest super-
. - n
vised the rebuilding of the community's
church. Several years earlier, Viet Cong and
NVA troops had wrecked the church and
terrorized the parishners, who fled to refugee
camps in the Qui Nhon area.
The brigade provided commodity sup-
port as well as security, and Revolutionary
Development Cadre supervised the con-
struction of a dispensary and renovation of
the Qui Thuan school. The priest promised
to persuade his 6,000 parishners to return
to the hamlet. Some returned, but others
were waiting until Spring 1970 to test the
government's willingness to provide long-
Cooperation between the 4th Battalion
and district officials revived the Tarn
Quan fishing industry and pumped life into
the stagnant Tarn Quan market. Both had
languished under a government restriction
on fishing, imposed in 1966. The restriction
was necessary to control VC infiltration
through the waters of Tarn Quan inlet.
When a 4th Battalion platoon, an RF
platoon, an RF team and the hamlet chief
moved into Thien Chanh on April 20, only
42 diehard fishermen remained, fishing
furtively and illegally when U.S. and South
Vietnamese patrol boats were out of sight.
Brigade officers and hamlet officials ar-
ranged to escort fishing boats beyond the
three-kilometer restricted zone to fish during
the day and escort them back in the after-
noon. The hamlet chief checked boats in
and out. The fishermen's catch was sold in
the Tarn Quan market place. Thien Chanh
began to thrive again, and two neighboring
fishing hamlets asked to be included in the
arrangement with the Thien Chanh fleet.
Step-by-Step the restrictions were lifted
until the night-time curfew alone remained
and the 4th Battalion's small escort boat
was no longer needed. By the end of 1969,
Thien Chanh had more than 2,000 residents,
and the market place hummed with trade.
In Hoai Nhon district, My Due hamlet,
at the mouth of the notorious An Lao
Valley, became a highly touted example of
pacification progress. Before April 15, not
a building stood in the hamlet, not a person
lived there. Former residents lived in regufee
camps in Bong Son. On April 15, a com-
bined 2d Battalion and RF security element
moved into My Due. They remained alone
for some time. Then people brought their
cattle to graze during the day. Farmers
began working the fallow rice fields.
Brigade engineers rebuilt the bridge that
the VC had destroyed, and the paratroopers
and RF soldiers were resupplied by trucks
instead of helicopters. As former residents
became convinced that security troops
would remain as long as necessary, they
began building homes among the ruins.
By the end of the year more than 160
families lived in My Due.
U.S. and Vietnamese officials decided to
make a test case of Hoai An District. The
1st Battalion had trained effective Self
Defense Forces by the middle of the sum-
mer, and there had been no enemy-initiated
incidents since the beginning of Washington-
Green. By early August, only E Troop, 17th
Cavalry and a 2d Battalion company con-
tinued the job an entire battalion had started.
E Troop withdrew in November to assume
other duties, leaving only one U.S. company
and local Vietnamese forces to continue the
security mission. The entire population of
Hoai An lived under government control
before the end of the year.
The beginning of the pacification mission
brought a dramatic increase in the number
of Hoi Chanhs, enemy who turned them-
selves into Allied troops under the Chieu
Hoi (Open Arms) program. Brigade civil
affairs and psychological operations officer
Major Karl L. Sannicks explained, "Before
April, from 10 to 15 enemy per month were
rallying to Allied forces in northern Binh
Dinh Province. In April, 44 surrendered.
The number averaged around 38 per month,
and then came October when 179 Charlies
came over to the Republic of Vietnam."
Sannicks noted that more than 100 of
October's Hoi Chanhs came from Phu My
District, all within a week's time.
Other indications measured pacification
progress. The people began to point out
booby traps and turn in enemy weapons
and equipment. They got paid according to
the information or material they turned in.
Funds for the payments came from the
country-wide Volunteer Informant Pro-
Regional and Popular Forces became
increasingly proficient at setting out night
ambushes and defending the hamlets against
VC guerrillas. At the beginning of Washing-
ton-Green, brigade forces assumed bridge
and road security missions, releasing RF-PF
for defense of the hamlets.
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Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham, a
former assistant division commander of the
101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) in
Vietnam, assumed command of the 173d on
August 9. The 49-year-old former Scream-
ing Eagle arrived when significant changes
were beginning to occur in the enemy
situation, tactical application of the pacifica-
tion concept, and brigade organization.
But one fact did not change: The brigade
remained committed to pacification.
In early September, the 3d of the 503d
Infantry rejoined the brigade from Task
Force South, and the 1st of the 50th In-
fantry left the brigade and joined Task
Force South at Phan Thiet. Initially, the
3/503d took over the l/50th's pacification
mission in Phu My District. Later, the bat-
talion was freed for combat operations in
the Crow's Foot area in the southwestern
corner of the AO.
By late summer the enemy had begun
making moves from the mountains to the
west indicating he might try to disrupt
pacification in the lowland hamlets and try
to regain his support. In response to a
growing enemy threat, the 1st Battalion, 12th
Infantry from the 4th Division came under
the brigade's operational control late in
September for operations in the An Lao
Valley. In October, the rest of the 4th
Division's 2d Brigade joined the l/12th.
On the last day of October, the 173d
Provisional Tank Company was deactivated.
As the only airborne armor unit in the U.S.
Army, the company had also been known
as Company D, 16th Armor and the Tuy
Hoa Provisional Tank Company, while
compiling a distinguished combat record
with the brigade.
E Troop, 17th Cavalry salvaged its gun
jeeps, nicknamed after television's Rat
Patrol, and took over the tank company's
armored personnel carriers. In addition,
the Cav received new Sheridan Airborne
Armored Assault Vehicles.
In December, the 101st Division's 3d
Battalion, 506th Infantry joined the 173d
to help prevent an enemy buildup in the
Crow's Foot area from disrupting the pacifi-
cation work of the rest of the brigade in the
Brigade and Vietnamese forces made
progress together, at first moving quickly,
then during the late summer and early fall,
slowing down. 173d engineers continued
work improving the roads and bridges in
the AO. Highway 3A was extended, linking
Hoai Nhon's coastal fishing communities
with inland agricultural hamlets. The 2d
Battalion helped bring Lo Dieu hamlet, on
an isolated stretch of beach with the Tiger
Mountains towering above the hamlet on
three other sides, under government control.
The tranquil Lo Dieu beach became a one-
day R & R site for weary paratroopers.
Deserted An Quang hamlet near the coast
in Phu My became a thriving community
of more than 157 families in October when
the 3/503d Infantry and local Vietnamese
forces provided security and helped vil-
lagers move back to their homes from tem-
porary dwellings on beach sand dunes.
Constant fighting between VC and Allied
forces had driven An Quang residents to
the open beach.
Prosperous Phu Thu fishing hamlet
represented another government gain in the
pacification program. The VC wanted the
hamlet because it was located near the base
of the Tiger Mountains with easy access to
mountain hideouts. An integrated Vietna-
mese-paratrooper security element moved
into Phu Thu to stay in October. By the end
of the year, hamlet residents were cooperat-
ing with the security force against the VC.
Before the Allied team entered the hamlet,
helicopters flying over it were often shot
The pacification mission had produced
new problems for an airborne unit that had
been used to fighting in dense jungles,
rugged mountains and mired rice paddies,
constantlv on the move, constantly bone
wearv. First, the paratroopers got bored.
Platoons and companies remained in fixed
locations for weeks. The job of training
local forces and patrolling the same ground
day after day soon became monotonous.
Second, they had to fight complacency bred
by monotonous routine to prevent the
enemy from gaining offensive initiative.
In one way though, what seemed as
monotonous routine often worked to an
advantage. Because the combined security
forces remained in or near the hamlets for
extended periods, the people came to know
and trust the soldiers. Cooperation and
rapport soon developed between soldiers
and villagers. The VC, who once controlled
the hamlets by extortion and terror, found
themselves on the outside.
But there were setbacks too. VC assas-
sination and kidnap teams sometimes
evaded the security net and killed or cap-
tured key local officials or committed other
acts of terrorism. Paratroopers and Vietna-
mese soldiers found booby traps and mines
the painful, deadly way, even after pacifica-
tion progress in the hamlets. The Viet Cong
infrastructure suffered, but it wasn't com-
pletely destroyed in 1969. Although bri-
gade troops weren't preoccupied with
chasing and killing the enemy, they still
engaged VC and NVA troops in small unit
combat, suffering casualties as well as
In December, General Cunningham ob-
served, "Enemy attention to our activities
is itself a strong indication of our success.
Eight months ago the VC and NVA operat-
ed primarily with their logistics elements,
drawing subsistence for their forces. The
enemy was not concerned with sustaining
a large military effort in this area because
he had effective control of the rice produc-
"Only a fraction of the 2d VC Regiment
and the 18th NVA Regiment was active
in the area. Since that time his attention to
our activites has grown in direct proportion
to our success."
The commanding general explained that
22d NVA Regiment began operating in the
An Lao Valley, threatening pacification ef-
forts in Hoai Nhon and Tarn Quan districts.
Local guerrillas continued to operate in the
populated areas, but RF, PF and brigade
security forces have reduced the local
"Our intelligence indicates that the
VC-NVA continue to build up their forces
and are doing their utmost to mount
significant operations against us," continu-
ed Cunningham. "We are effectively denying
the enemy the support he needs to wage
A marked increase in communist activity
occurred in November as VC and NVA
harrassed or probed brigade defenses. Dur-
ing early morning attacks November 3 on
artillery Fire Support Bases Mahoney and
Stinger, 3d Battalion, 319th Artillerymen
and 4/503d Infantrymen killed 30 enemy
and captured numerous weapons and equip-
ment. Sappers hit Mahonev just after mid-
night, and an hour and a half later Fire Base
Stinger, about seven miles southwest of
Mahoney, was probed.
On November 8, helicopter pilots of C
Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry,
attached to the brigade, spotted four
Vietnamese flee into a cave south of Bong
Son. The Cav's aero rifle platoon and a
platoon from the 3/503d's Company B were
inserted in the area and found a sizeable
cache of weapons, ammunition and food.
Further search yielded 30 VC suspects, 27
of whom were later classified as VC. Two
armed VC were engaged outside the cave
complex; one was killed and his AK-47
A few days after that engagement, one
of the 27 VC captives led a platoon of the
3d Battalion's Company D to another large
On November 11, enemy gunners shelled
the brigade headquarters camp at LZ
English with '40 rounds of mortar and
■ * * * * *
* *7* * * *
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recoilless rifle fire, the most significant
attack on that camp in months.
Early November 19th alert paratroopers
of Company A, 4/503d Infantry killed or
captured all of an enemy force that attacked
their company command post near An Qui
hamlet. The company suffered no casualties
as it killed 10 NVA and captured another
during the brief attack that came at 3:30
a.m. The captured sapper confirmed that the
attacking force numbered 11 men.
Company commander, Captain Richard
F. Timmons, McLean, Virginia, attributed
his company's success to the alertness of
roving guards within the company peri-
meter. "They reacted immediately and
decisively to the attack."
During a last-light reconnaissance on the
final day of November, the brigade's avia-
tion platoon killed nine of an estimated
enemy platoon hiding in tunnels two miles
west of LZ English.
Christmas saw 3/503d paratroopers con-
ducting search and clear missions in the
t / ' -/r
Vai . fi
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Crow's Foot area with 3/503th Screaming
Eagles. Other brigade elements continued
pacification during December. In January,
the 4th Division's 2d Brigade left the An
Lao Valley, returning to division head-
quarters for redeployment. The 3/503d and
the 3/503th moved north into the An Lao
to take up the slack.
At the beginning of 1970, pacification
continued to make progress in the four
districts of northern Binh Dinh Province.
Dispensaries and schools were opening and
increasing numbers of people were using
these facilities. Brigade engineers continu-
ed work on roads and bridges. The 173d
Military Police opened a combined station
in Bong Son with Vietnamese MP's. The
1st Battalion was operating in Phu My
District; the 2d Battalion in Hoai Nhon
district; the 4th Battalion in Tarn Quan
district; and the 3d Battalion was conduct-
ing operations in the An Lao Valley with
*L A •
■ ' ■
U. S. O. SHOWS & VIPs
During the past 12 months, the brigade's
rear areas and remote fire support bases have
become showplaces for many distinguished
and well known visitors. USO organized
tours featuring entertainers, music groups
and Hollywood screen personalities brought
a touch of home to the war weary para-
Big names like: veteran movie actor
Jimmy Stewart, Playboy bunny Kathy
McDonald, dancer-model Dixie Clegg and
TV personality Tom Tully were introduced
to the Airborne troopers. Also, baseball
greats Ron Swoboda of the Mets, Jim
"Mudcat" Grant of the Cards and the
Braves Milt Pappas thrilled ground pound-
ers with handshakes, autographs and just
plain shooting the breeze.
"The Ralph Kimbrough Show and
Trash Band", a five member group from
Hollywood, Calif caused considerable
clamor when they brought shapely Miss
Dee Steele on stage to wow the audience
with her vocal stylings and dancing finesse.
A six man laugh riot, known as the
"Harmonica Rascals" combined funky
attire and slapstick antics with old favorites
that Sky Soldiers wanted to hear; and
presented a show remembered by all.
In addition to American groups, rock
bands from Australia, Korea, Guam and
the Philippines left their music ringing
through the vast farmlands of the Binh
Of the brigade's own music groups, the
"Highland Sounds" not only ranks high in
Airborne circles but is a favorite among
troops of other units. Performing a tasteful
oleo of rock, pop, and soul sounds; the big
ten man band walked away with first place
in the USASUPCOM "Battle of the Bands"
at Red Beach in Qui Nhon.
Equiped with two guitars, a collection of
popular songs and two great voices, the
brigade's folk group, Gallager and Slade,
is dedicated to entertaining troops in the
boonies who have little opportunity to see
the USO shows.
Aside from entertainers, the brigade's
pacification efforts and tactical operations
prompted visits from important American
and allied military officials. Some were men
who have' made their mark in the annals of
Lieutenant Generals Charles A. Corcoran,
Frank T. Mildren, and William R. Peers
made countless observations of brigade
programs, noting the progress of a year's
Joining Corcoran, Mildren and Peers;
Major General E. B. Roberts and General
Creighton W. Abrams conveyed their
heartiest congratulations to the brigade on
the sixth anniversary of its activation.
In September, Secretary of the Army,
Stanley Resor toured Vietnam. Paying a visit
to the brigade, he met troops and viewed
recent pacification efforts.
Perhaps the greatest honor bestowed on
the brigade was the presentation of the
nation's highest military unit award — the
Presidential Unit Citation.
The brigade was cited for "extraordinary
heroism" involving "individual accounts of
unhesitating courage and tenacity" displayed
during the 1967 action at Dak To.
General Creighton W. Abrams, com-
manding general of the U.S. Forces in
Vietnam presented the coveted award to
the brigade in September 1969.
Now attached at the brigade color, the
blue streamer imprinted with the words
Dak To in white letters stands as a proud
symbol of the excellent quality and bravery
of the fighting American paratrooper.
The faces of northern Binh Dinh Pro-
vince, the 173d Airborne Brigade's area of
operation, are smiling, contemplative,
patient, disturbed. Thev reflect the ethnic
and cultural diversity of all Vietnam.
The people in northern Binh Dinh's
districts of Tarn Quan, Hoai Nhon, Hoai
An and Phu My earn their living primarily
by agriculture, with rice as the basic crop.
The land supports two to three rice crops
a year. Land locked Hoai An District is the
area's rice bowl.
Other trades and industries supplement
the agricultural economy. Shallow water
fishing industries and salt fields flourish in
the three coastal districts. In northern most
Tarn Quan, recognized by the Vietnamese
government as a separate district only since
February 1969, small factories or shops
produce cigarets and coconut fiber rope.
Hoai Nhon tradesmen manufacture brick
and' roof tiles, pottery, charcoal and some
coconut fiber rope. Phu My District has
four rice mills and two ice plants.
To learn something of the proud people
■ w,r- -
who are the beneficiaries of their govern-
ment's pacification program in northern
Binh Dinh, we turn to the past, looking for
the ancient roots that nourished the growth
and development of the people, culture,
Ancient Vietnam consisted of three geo-
graphic areas administered as separate
political units: Tonkin, which included
most of present day North Vietnam; An-
nam, the middle that includes Binh Dinh
Province; and Cochin China, the southern
third of South Vietnam.
The ancestors of present Vietnamese
seem- both physically and culturally to have
been a mixture of Sino-Tibetan and early
Indonesian or Malay types. Today about 85
percent of the present Vietnamese popula-
tion are ethnically Vietnamese, called An-
namese in early centuries.
The Chinese extended their influence into
Vietnam as early as 2879 B.C. In 207 B.C.
a Chinese general conquered a number of
small states in the Red River Delta area and
combined them with two Chinese provinces
to form the kingdom of Nam Viet. Armies
of the Han dynasty overthrew that kingdom
in 111 B.C. and made it a province.
The area that presently includes northern
Binh Dinh emerged in 618 A.D. as a Chinese
protectorategeneral named Annam, v/hich
means, ironically, "pacified south."
Despite their exposure to Chinese cus-
toms and culture and more than 1,000 years
of continuous Chinese rule, the Vietnamese
people not only retained their national
identity, but they fought for it. In 938, as
China's Tang dynasty tottered, a Vietna-
mese general drove out the Chinese army,
and the free Great Viet State emerged,
signaling the beginning of 900 years of
independence, except for a 20-year inter-
lude of Chinese occupation in the 15th
The next period of foreign intervention
came from Europe. France entered Vietnam
permanently some time after August 1858,
when a naval squadron steamed into Da
Nang harbor seeking to establish a French
commercial sphere of influence. French
and English interference in Southeast Asia,
however, began near the middle of the 18th
century. Vietnam's independence ended
in 1883 when France extended its control
over all of Vietnam.
The Vietnamese were no more satisfied
to live under French rule than they had
been under the Chinese. The French colonial
regime came unceremoniously to an end
in 1954 with the battle of Dien Bien Phu and
the Geneva Accords that divided Vietnam
into north and south at the 17th parallel.
Events from 1954 to the present tell of a
people torn by internal subversion, war, and
the struggle to form a viable, responsive
One thousand years of Chinese rule did
not dim the Vietnamese vision of freedom
and independence. The sometimes quiet,
sometimes violent struggle against French
colonialism lasted more than 70 years. One
point has become clear. The Vietnamese are
a patient people. They will eventually
overcome their communist enemies and
live in peace and freedom as they did be-
tween the ninth and nineteenth centuries.
•». **? i
THE SKY SOLDIER
What are you looking for Sky
Soldier? The enemy? A cold
beer? A vision of home? A lost
friend? What are you reaching
for Sky Soldier?
The dawn of each new day may
bring a different answer, but no
matter. The infantryman goes
on — to fight, to die, to live, and
— yes — to go home.
War does things to a man. A
wounded buddy and a mad dash
in the open. "Are you crazy?"
"Are you scared?" "Hell, yes —
To make his way through impos-
sible places. To search for
something that may or may not
be on the other side of the next
tree. War does things to a man.
gft. - -•
Tension and toil make small
pleasures great ones. For a man
to carry on — as he always does
— the fight must give way to a
few moments of rest and com-
fort. That letter from home
may not be much, but it isn't
war. Where do I go tomor-
row? What did I see today?
There are so many, many
memories. Medals, wet water,
hot sun, baseball players, ele-
phant grass, rain — all those
things and more: much, much
more. Remember it all, the
good and the bad — how could
it be forgotten?
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